FDA chief facing 10 years prison on corruption charge

By KYAW YE LYNN | FRONTIER 

YANGON – The head of the Food and Drug Administration is facing up to 10 years in prison after allegedly taking more than K150 million from a company that won a tender from his department.

The Anti-Corruption Commission said today that its investigation found FDA director general Dr Than Htut “abused his authority” and demanded K151,439,786 (US$113,700) from a company that won an FDA tender.

It said he used the money to make significant upgrades to two of his properties last year, including building two houses, a garage, fences, a swimming pool and a water fountain.

The statement said the investigation was launched after the commission received complaints that some Ministry of Health and Sports department heads were “spending public budgets for their own interest” and that there had been irregularities with some construction projects.

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Than Htut has been charged under section 56 of the law and faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

“We received a complaint against him last December. As described in the statement, the investigation found that he had misused his power so we filed a case against him,” commission spokesperson U Han Nyunt said.

Han Nyunt said he had been informed that Than Htut was arrested this afternoon by police from Zabuthiri Township. Newswatch reported that he was detained at 12:30pm and remanded to prison.

The spokesperson for Zabuthiri police station, Police Colonel Sein Lwin, could not be reached for comment.

Than Htut is the first high-ranking government official to face corruption charges since the Anti-Corruption Commission was re-formed last November, with former minister U Aung Kyi as its chairman.

New president U Win Myint has said fighting graft will be a priority for his administration. During an April 10 meeting with Aung Kyi and other commission members, he urged them to carry out their duties “decisively and without discrimination”, and to alert him to any “interference” in their anti-corruption investigations.

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